If leeks were the currency of England, I reckon I’d be a rich man.
So far this month, I’ve pulled up 1.9kg of the heady smelling vegetable. That’s 12 leeks to you and me, and I’ve still got 21 left (pictured).
Luckily, I never tire of them and their delicious punchy taste. I’ve made leek and mushroom quiche, leek and cider mussels, leek and goats cheese tart, and used them as part of a winter greens side dish. It goes without saying that I’ve also knocked up a batch of that traditional winter warmer, leek and potato soup.
Expensive in the Shops
What has surprised me though, is how much leeks fetch in the shops. The cheapest of the large supermarkets sell organic leeks at £4.13 a kilo. According to my Veg Savings Spreadsheet, I’ve saved £7.81 so far in February on leeks alone. That’ll pay for my seed potatoes!
Aside from their lovely taste, my favourite thing about leeks is the pungent aroma that they immediately release the second you pull them from the ground. It is almost overpowering, and a real reminder of why homegrown food is so exciting.
Last week, I harvested some before work and left them in the car all day. The smell when I came home was incredible – kind of like a veggie Magic Tree – and certainly cheered me up after a day cooped up in front of the computer.
I tend to sow lots of seeds in pots of multi-purpose compost during spring and plant out when they’re pencil size. I do this by emptying the whole lot out of the pot, breaking the baby leeks up and transplanting them into holes made with a dibber, about 15 – 20cm apart.
Making sure the little beardy roots are tucked into the bottom of the hole, I water in but don’t fill with soil, as the leeks bulk up to the size of the hole.
Leeks aren’t particularly fussy soil-wise, but I do give them plenty of water.
I worked on a farm in the Pyrenees for a couple of weeks a few years back, and they dug a big, long, foot deep trench to plant their leeks in, and earthed up as they grew. Unfortunately, I never saw the results, but I bet they were monsters!
I’ve found that my leeks sit quite happily in the ground through winter, and will last until the spring when they start to flower.